Family of slain man seeks answers

DOWNEY - Weeks after an officer-related shooting claimed the life of Downey resident Steven Bours, who authorities say charged police with a hatchet last month, the Bours family has come forth determined to find answers and seek justice for a man they call quiet and mild-mannered.According to the LA County Sheriff's Department, on March 20, Downey police arrived in the area of Paramount Boulevard and Borson Street around 6:30 p.m. where they discovered 30-year-old Bours brandishing a hatchet while walking northbound in the southbound lanes of Paramount Boulevard near Imperial Highway. After Bours was ordered to stop and drop the weapon, Dep. Guillermina Saldana reports that Bours, with the hatchet raised over his head, continued to advance towards Downey police, who in fear for their safety shot and struck him. Bours was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead. Sheriff's Department homicide detectives are leading the investigation into the circumstances surrounding Bours' death, which the Bours family believes was unnecessary. "We don't have any bitter feelings towards the police department, we just want to get to the bottom of this," said Nicki Otto, 47, a family friend and spokesperson for the Bours. "He was not an irrational person - there was no reason to shoot him. They could have tased him - we just want closure and justice for him." According to the family, on March 20, Bours left home walking north on Paramount Blvd. to a friend's house to sharpen a wood working tool that he was carrying in hand. While en route, Bours was confronted by police. In an attempt to flee, Bours walked across Paramount Blvd. and into the southbound lanes of the street where police cut him off and ordered him to stop and drop his weapon. "Every witness that we have talked to has confirmed that he stopped," said Otto in a phone interview. "Steven was a soft, mild-mannered person. He didn't want any problems with anybody. He halted, but the police fired several shots hitting him in the chest. We weren't even notified that he was killed. We were notified by a neighbor who saw it on the news." Otto said the family has attempted to obtain the police report, but has not been able to since the incident is still under investigation. The Bours are also meeting with lawyers, concerned that the investigation will result in no disciplinary action for the officers involved in the shooting. Interestingly enough, on February 21, a month before the fatal shooting, Bours was confronted by police and ordered to stop. According to the family, when he did not comply, he was tased by police. Bours was released, but ticketed for evading arrest. Born in Bellflower, Bours was a resident of Downey for 30 years and a military veteran who served in Iraq before being discharged in 2007. The family is currently planning a march in memory of Bours that would begin at Paramount and Imperial, where Bours was shot, and move north, up to the front of the Downey police department. "We want an apology and justice for what they did," said Otto. "Why couldn't they tase him? We just want to know why. We plan on getting down to the truth."

********** Published: April 9, 2010 - Volume 8 - Issue 51